File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2000/foucault.0011, message 37

Subject: Phenomenology
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 12:46:57 -0700


Apologies for cross-posts. Deleuze se masturbe:    (kidding, of course)

"The idea that consciousness is directed towards the things and gains
significance in the world is precisely what Foucault refuses to believe. In
fact intentionality is created in order to surpass any psychologism or
naturalism, but it invents a new psychologism and a new naturalism to the
point where . . . it can hardly be distinguished from a 'learning' process.
It restores the psychologism that synthesizes consciousness and
significations, a naturalism of the 'savage experience' and of the thing, of
the aimless existence of the thing in the world" (F, 108).

I am interpreting this to mean that the notion that Existence precedes
Essence is meant to free the subject from any pregiven characteristics.
However, Deleuze's point, as I understand it, is that the phenomenological
understanding of the subject's acquisition of Essence, so to speak, (or, for
Sartre, the constant state of freedom) is itself a totalizing
"psychologism." Deleuze continues:

"Certainly, as long as we remain on the level of words and phrases we can
believe in an intentionality through which consciousness is directed towards
something and gains significance (as something significant); as long as we
remain on the level of things and states of things we can believe in a
'savage' experience that lets the thing wander aimlessly through
consciousness. But if phenomenology 'places things in paranthesis,' as it
claims to do, this ought to push it beyond words and phrases towards
statements, and beyond things and states of things towards visibilities. But
statements are not directed towards anything, since they are not related to
a thing any more than they express a subject but refer only to a language, a
language-being, that gives them unique subjects and objects that satisfy
particular conditions as immanent variables. And visibilities are not
deployed in a savage world already opened up to a primitive
(pre-predicative) consciousness, but refer only to light, a light-being,
which gives them forms, proportions and perspectives that are immanent in
the proper sense - that is, free of any intentional gaze. Neither language
nor light will be examined in areas that relate them to one another
(designation, signification, the signifying process of language; a physicial
environment, a tangible or intelligible world) but rather in the irreducible
dimension that gives both of them as separate and self-sufficient entities:
'there is' light, and 'there is' language. All intentionality collapses in
the gap that opens up between these two monads, or in the 'non-relation'
between seeing and speaking" (F, 108-09).

I am think I am getting bits and pieces of this. The statement that
"visibilities are not deployed in a savage world already open to a primitive
(pre-predicative) consciousness" seems to explain the statement that "as
long as we remain on the level of things . . . we can believe in a 'savage'
experience." I don't know how Deleuze is using the word "level," but perhaps
he is saying that ONLY once light-being is presupposed as a natural part of
the 'savage experience' can one even speak of an aimless existence in a
tangible world. Visibilities are NOT part of some natural experience, but
rather "refer only to light, a light-being, which gives them FORMS." It is
only when visibilities are rendered visible that they appear to have forms
"free of any intentional gaze." But what of Deleuze's statement that "all
intentionality collapses in the gap that opens up between these two monads,
or in the 'non-relation' between seeing and speaking" ??

At any rate, we thus arrive at Deleuze's conclusion: "This is Foucault's
major achievement: the conversion of phenomenology to epistemology" (F,
109). I assume Deleuze's use of the phrase "learning process" foreshadowed
this claim. Deleuze explains: "For seeing and speaking means knowing
[savoir], but we do not see what we speak about, nor do we speak about what
we see; and when we see a pipe we shall always say (in one way or another):
'this is not a pipe,' as though intentionality denied itself, and collapsed
into itself" (F, 109). I haven't read Foucault's work on Magritte. Does this
have something to do with Platonism? Once again, how is intentionality
collapsing into itself?

"Everything is knowledge, and this is the first reason why there is no
'savage experience': there is nothing beneath or prior to knowledge" (F,
109). Combine this with the statement that "seeing and speaking means
knowing" and this is pretty self-explanatory. This resembles Foucault's
critique of Freud. But then Deleuze says: "But knowledge is irreducibly
double, since it involves speaking and seeing, language and light, which is
the reason why there is no intentionality" (F, 109). As I've said above, I'm
not sure what the non-relation between seeing and speaking would have to do
with intentionality (probably because some of the previous pages on the
non-relation between speaking and seeing drifted over my head). Anyone want
to give me some input?



"Thought is no longer theoretical. As soon as it functions it
offends or reconciles, attracts or repels, breaks, dissociates,
unites, or re-unites; it cannot help but liberate and enslave.
Even before prescribing, suggesting a future, saying what must
be done, even before exhorting or merely sounding an alarm,
thought, at the level of its existence, in its very dawning, is
in itself an action--a perilous act."
           -Michel Foucault


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